14.02.02 Jn. 12:44-50
FINAL APPEAL TO HIS BELOVED PEOPLE
44 Then Jesus cried out,
“The one who believes in Me
Believes not in Me
but in Him who sent Me.
45 And the one who sees Me
Sees Him who sent me.
46 I have come as a light
into the world,
so that everyone who believes in Me
would not remain in darkness.
47 If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. 50 I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
The essential message in the Fourth Gospel is that God sent His Son to save the world, not to condemn it. This message was not initiated by the wrath of God, but by His compassionate love. Yet the coming of the Savior involves judgment for those who defiantly refuse His gift of love and eternal life. The character and love of Jesus is portrayed exceptionally well in John 13:1-17 and in His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17.
“Light … darkness.” Light (Gk. phos) is associated with the knowledge of God while darkness (Gk. skotos) is associated with the lack of that knowledge which is unbelief that eventually leads to death. These phrases were common figures of speech, well known throughout Judaism. The Essenes used these motifs in poetic style in their Manual of Discipline:
All who practice righteousness
are under domination of the Prince of Light
And walk in the ways of light.
All who practice perversity
are under the domination of the Angel of Darkness
And walk in the ways of darkness.
Dead Sea Scroll Fragment, 1QS 3:20
The Essene phrase “Prince of Light” was not a reference to Jesus, but to one of their two expected messianic figures. The words “light,” “true light,” and “glory” had messianic connections in the Hebrew Bible and to the Essenes. Everyone knew that.
Jesus now gave a final appeal to His beloved people, a warning that a day of judgment is coming. The urgency of that warning has not changed after two thousand years. At the end of every life there will be a judgment day when everyone will have to give an account for his or her life.
“The Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say.” This statement greatly angered the religious elitist, because in their thinking, Jesus equated Himself with God. The significant issue here is not what the Father commanded Jesus to say, but that Jesus claimed to have the privilege to speak personally with God. They believed God was not, nor could He become a person and, likewise a person could not become God. However, this phrase not only affirmed the deity of Jesus, but He also stated that if they rejected His words, they would be rejecting God. This compounded the problem for them, as they believed in only one deity according to Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Shema.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Shema)
They could not understand how Jesus could be God and yet speak to God. The idea that created a sense of repulsion is that they remembered all too well the Greek dictator, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, of the second century B.C. who claimed to be a god. But they also realized that Jesus fulfilled a number of prophecies and His kindness and compassion was unlike anyone else they had ever known.
. Barclay, Jesus. 264.
. Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament. 66.
. The Essenes could not reconcile the biblical descriptions of a suffering servant and a victorious servant, so they concluded there would be two messiahs. See “Essenes” 02.01.06.
. Gen. 1:3; Ps. 36:10; Isa 49:6, 60:1; and Dan. 2:22.